Biden and Trump’s biggest challenge? The apathetic voters who could decide the elections

(Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Biden and Trump’s biggest challenge? The apathetic voters who could decide the elections

Elections 2024, California politics

Believe E. Pinho

April 4, 2024

Although Haley Fox


talks about politics regularly with friends and family, she said, and as soon as the term Election 2024 comes up, she feels her body fill with anxiety.

There has been nothing that represents me for a long time, says Fox, a photographer from San Diego. So, like in 2024, just seeing what we have to choose feels so bleak.

For Fox and many other Americans, election year boredom is upon us. President Biden and former President Trump became their parties’ presumptive nominees weeks ago, capping one of the shortest primaries in American history and beginning the long run-up to the general election.

It’s essentially two establishment parties going head-to-head, it feels like, said Jared Sichel, a Republican strategist and co-founder of the Costa Mesa-based Republican marketing firm Winning Tuesday. For many people, it’s just Groundhog Day.

Voters who don’t want either option, double haters, as they’re called, make up about 15% of the electorate, according to USA Today and Suffolk University polls last month. Other polls show their share is closer to a fifth of the electorate. In a neck-and-neck race between Trump and Biden, the bloc will be crucial in November.

But whether they will vote is the million-dollar question. Most Californians are not looking forward to voting for president this year, according to a February report from the Public Policy Institute of California.

While 84% of Californians agreed that the 2024 election is “very important,” fewer than four in 10 said they are extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president. Democrats are less enthusiastic than Republicans, and independents are more apathetic than either party, the survey found.

The palpable apathy among voters has translated into low primary turnout across the country. Elections in presidential years usually gain momentum

of all national media attention. But the Washington Post found that only 10% of voters nationwide had cast ballots in the primaries through mid-March.

In California, just 34% of registered voters cast ballots on Super Tuesday, the second-lowest presidential primary turnout in state history, according to the secretary of state. (Only 31% of registered voters in the state cast primary ballots in 2012, then-President Obama’s re-election year.)

Despite having more voting options than ever, Los Angeles County was one of five California counties with the lowest turnout in the March 5 primary, with 29% of registered voters voting, the Secretary of State’s Office reported. The low turnout came despite California moving its first day to Super Tuesday, joining 14 other states and American Samoa in encouraging more voters to participate.

The Biden campaign, which was largely quiet during Super Tuesday, launched its big push after the president’s State of the Union address two days later. His fiery speech, widely labeled by pundits as his way of fighting the narrative that at 81 he is too old for another four years as president, kicked off a multi-week tour of key swing states .

Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff stopped in Nevada, Arizona and even California. Biden and his surrogates headlined multiple fundraisers, earning more money to add to the campaign’s $155 million fundraising coffers, according to


latest financial reports. His funding far exceeds the $42 million Trump’s campaign had at the end of February.

The stakes of this election could not be higher, and our campaign is investing our historic resources in reaching voters where they are, earning every vote and ensuring the American people know how much is at stake in November,” said senior Biden campaign spokesperson Sarafina. Chitika said in a statement.

“With Donald Trump promising to become a dictator on day one, taking away women’s freedom of choice and manipulating the economy for himself and his wealthy friends at the expense of the middle class,” she continued, “it is clear that his toxic agenda and his lack of resources means he has nothing to win over the voters who will decide this election.

Trump, meanwhile, has been busy with court hearings for his multimillion-dollar civil fraud verdict and preparations for the first of his four criminal trials, scheduled for April 15. He has also remained active on Truth Social, his social media platform. destroying Biden and independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

The Trump campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

“The more Trump is able to stay out of the news, or at least


“What he’s saying is aimed at Biden, he’ll probably be able to sway some of the more independent voters.” I think the rise of the Biden campaign will be based much more on anxiety about Trump than excitement about Biden. . “

But as the dueling campaigns compete for relevance among apathetic voters, their messages don’t always cut through the noise.

It’s the boy who cried wolf, Fox said. Okay, here we go again, democracy is at stake.

That was the theme of the 2020 campaign

Fighting for the soul of the nation, said Mark Gonzalez, chairman of the Los Angeles County Democratic Party. Every time we say this, it’s the most important election of our lives. But this one in particular shows itself [Trumps] presidency all the damage he had done.

The provincial parties share a rare moment of unity in their message to encourage turnout and combat apathy: vote local.

Our message as a county party is to say that there are no elections more important than those for the City Council, the Board of Supervisors, the State Assembly and the State Senate, said Roxanne Hoge,

a volunteer

for the Los Angeles County Republican Party.

Hoge’s challenge is to help disaffected Republicans living in Democratic Los Angeles County understand that voting is the best way to channel their frustration.

You miss 100% of the photos you don’t take. So don’t complain. You know things aren’t great, Hoge said. You have a ballot; You get one in October and hand it in.

Breanne Deam, 34, did not vote in 2020 and 2016. And while the Yucaipa resident said she regularly complains to friends and family members about politics, she said she likely won’t vote again this year.

I know voting makes a difference. I think so, says Deam, an independent. But those are just not my candidates.

Biden has not fulfilled his campaign promises, Deam said, and she is concerned about his age. Trump brings too much baggage to satisfy enough voters, she added, making this election feel particularly tense. She finds supporters of both candidates angry and thinks America needs a candidate who can unite voters.

It feels like a divorce. It appears one is the mother, one is the father and we are the child, Deam said. Ultimately, they don’t care about anyone but themselves.


the San Diego photographer,

voted for Biden unenthusiastically in 2020, finding him a better choice than Trump. But she has viewed with dismay his handling of the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

As someone whose grandparents immigrated here from Palestine, I can’t vote for Biden, she said.

But Trump is also a no-go for the registered Democrat, and she couldn’t remember the name of the third candidate who had ever piqued her interest. (She later remembered it was Claudia


la Cruz

or covered the and lc la/sw

of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.)

Fox was once one

an enthusiastic follower of productive



to coordinate

go inside

presidential election debates and

following it

current events. Even though she wants to stay informed, Fox said, she has taken a step back from keeping up with the day-to-day


of politics.

Now it’s turning into something that feels like a very depressing chore, Fox said. Like, “Well, I guess I’m going to find out what’s going on for the election I don’t want to vote in.”

The most she can do now, she said,

We consume a few videos or op-eds about the Middle East conflict before wrapping up and playing a few easy TikTok videos to lighten the mood.

moved down for flow/sw

But the road from the primaries to the general election in November is a long one, and a lot could change over the next seven months.

“I don’t know how much the candidates or the campaigns will be able to increase turnout as much as events beyond their control,” said Sichel, the Republican strategist. “Because, you know, who doesn’t already know where they stand on Trump and Biden?”

When Lynne, a 70-year-old voter in Long Beach who declined to give her last name, cast her ballot on Super Tuesday, she encouraged her fellow voters to stay focused.

We can’t think about the president so much; Well, be crazy, said Lynne. Just focus on your own little part of the world. Make your own little part of the world a better place.


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